Working with Suicide: The Impact on the Person-Centred Counsellor

  • Marijke Moerman

Student thesis: Phd


What are the long and short term effects of working with suicidal clients on the person-centred counsellor?As suicide remains a major public health issue with the latest figures for the UK of 5706, an increase from 5377 in 2007 (ONS, 2010), suicide prevention strategies remain high on the public health sector agenda. With this statement in mind, and financial resources and funding at a low, an increased demand on psychological therapies can be assumed. As a result, the impact on individual practitioners will most likely intensify, personally and professionally. This research aims to explore the extent the impact may have, personally and professionally on the person-centred counsellor. The study was structured using semi-structured interviews with a purposeful sample of ten person-centred counsellors. A constant comparative method was applied to analyse transcribed data, from which four main categories emerged: 'Experiencing the Therapeutic Encounter', 'Experiencing the Self within the Therapeutic Encounter', 'Seeking Solace - finding understanding' and 'Counsellor's Grounding through Knowledge', each subsumed by several lower order categories, from which a core category 'The Counsellor's Resilience' emerged. The findings propose that, although the participants in this study were at times deeply affected, both personally and professionally, by their clients' stories, they were able to reclaim their strength through seeking and finding support from supervisors, peers, holistic self-care and tacit knowledge, gained through personal experience and understanding. Formal training was identified as lacking in counselling training courses. The implications of the findings and recommendations are discussed.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorWilliam West (Supervisor) & Clare Lennie (Supervisor)


  • Counselling, Grounded Theory, Impact, Person-Centred, Suicide

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